Jean-Louis Schlesser, in the pits of Monza. Photo: www.schlesser-aventures.com
In a parallel universe, McLaren would have achieved in 1988 I never seen: the win in all the races of the World. In that alternative reality, Nigel Mansell would not have gotten sick from chicken pox, Williams would not have had to substitute for Jean-Louis Schlesser and Ayrton Senna would have been imposed in the Grand Prix of Italy.
With the incredible MP4/4-Honda, which since its debut in the last pre-season test at Imola had left the competition stunned, Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost had been dealt all the trumps before arriving at Monza, twelfth event of the year. Nothing made you think in a different outcome in the track magic. Senna dominated the race (even more so when Prost was forced to leave due to breakdown of the motor) when, two laps from the end, got ready to bent for the second time to jean-louis Schlesser in the chicane of the Rettifilo.
The French was no youngster: the next day, and served 40 years. But his experience in Formula 1 was limited to the Race of Champions, 1983 at Brands Hatch, not scoring, and his failed attempt to qualify with a RAM-March at the Grand Prix of France of that same year. The disease of Mansell allowed him to get on the FW12-Judd that took a place in the eleventh row.
Schlesser is shifted to the right to allow the maneuver of Senna. But, in doing so, blocked the brakes and not fly off the track, turned to the left, ramming the brazilian and leaving him out of combat. Gerhard Berger inherited the win, ahead of Michele Alboreto. An unexpected doublet to Ferrari that there were those who attributed to the heavenly intercession of Enzo Ferrari, who died a few weeks before.
Everything is back to normal in the last four races of the year. So, McLaren scored 15 of the 16 wins, and Ron Dennis will never forget the French that thwarted a perfect season… or the unwelcome virus that allowed him to run at Monza.